By Sylvia Elizabeth Blakely, 2012.
In 1983 my son, daughter-in-law and their children were thinking about immigrating to South Africa. As there was a lot of trouble in Northern Ireland where we lived I was saddened but did not discourage it. Until their arrangements were sorted out my son and daughter-in-law continued to work in Belfast. At this time I was looking after their young children, and one day when he was collecting the children my son announced that he had become a Christian. Not being a Christian myself at that time, I thought this was strange and wondered how long it would last. I remember saying: ‘It will not do you any harm’, thinking at least it might make him cut down on his smoking and drinking.
Prior to immigrating to South Africa, each time we met he kept telling me that I needed to be saved too, but I felt I had managed okay for fifty years and ignored his advice. When my son’s family settled in South Africa I got mail regularly from them and knew they were praying for me. Sometime later I started to listen to a Gospel program on the radio. I tuned in to it every night and enjoyed listening to the evangelist Dick Saunders. In 1985 I heard that Mr Saunders was coming to Northern Ireland, to a town a short distance from where I lived. He was holding a Gospel Mission for a week or more, so I decided I would like to see this man who I listened to on the radio, in person. About the third night of attending these services Mr Saunders spoke a lot on faith and repentance. He explained that faith was not in ourselves but we had to trust in in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. I travelled home in my car that night very happy and with great relief knowing that my sins were forgiven to be remembered no more. Jesus said: “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
The following morning the first thing I did was go to the post office and sent a telegram to my son and family in South Africa. I knew they were praying for me and would be pleased to hear I was saved. Soon after this I joined a church that preached the Gospel truth that we are all sinners and all need to be saved and born again to start a new life in Christ.
Update: After succumbing to pancreatic cancer Sylvia went to be with the Lord on Friday 21st July 2017.